375. war in the east

DOA saved my life any number of times in the 1980s, mainly through their live shows. From the back of auto body shops to abandoned youth clubs to at least one high school gym to the Arts Club on Seymour (still the best damned live venue the Terminal City has ever had) to at least two sold out Commodore Ballrooms, to some impromptu acoustic messing around off the edge of a movie set – it was never pretty, always somehow beautiful. And I’m pretty sure they did War In The East every time, their only reggae song, because it slowed things a touch, clarified a few key points. Fighting one another – killing for big brother. Same as it ever was.” (Philip Random)

DOA-live-1980s

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377. magnificent seven

“In retrospect, we realized that The Magnificent Seven was the Clash taking on hip-hop, but in early 1981 when Sandinista first arrived, nobody in suburban Canadian wherever had even heard the term yet. So for me, it felt more like a riff on Bob Dylan, subterranean and homesick — definitely New York City in all of its turn of the decade corrosion and despair, and yet madly fertile anyway, not unlike the world as a whole at the time. The acid helped in this regard. I feel I should I apologize for this, all the acid references that seem to pop up whenever some kind of broader cultural view is required as to what really went down in the 1980s (my angle on it anyway). But why should one apologize for telling the truth? The Clash never did. Even when they were wrong.” (Philip Random)

Clash-1981-backstage

378. power and the passion

“I remember seeing Midnight Oil live when they were as big as they’d ever get (late 1980s sometime), saving the world from ecological ruin one song at a time. They introduced Power and the Passion as a surfing song, which makes sense, because there’s nothing more powerful or passionate than a big wave, all that planetary evolution and movement coalescing across four billion years of evolutionary ebb and flow and yin and yang to conjure this fabulous monster which, if your skills are to up to it, you can actually ride. So not man vs nature so much as man in tune with it, which, in their prime, The Oils were just powerful and passionate enough to make you believe was possible.” (Philip Random)

MidnightOil-1984-live

384. wild blue yonder

“In which the Screaming Blue Messiahs remind us that, lest there be any doubt, the rock of the mainstream 1980s sucked. All those Power Stations, Duran Durans, Huey Lewises, hair metal catastrophes – proof that malevolent criminals sat at the controls of the music biz. Because we most definitely had other options. We had the Messiahs who were everything their name promised: loud, angry as hell, and damned good. But nah, Mister Mister was somehow more necessary.” (Philip Random)

screamingBlueMessiahs-1986

397. lost in the supermarket

“This one came our way in 1979 (c/o London Calling, arguably the greatest album of any and all time), but it never had more currency for me than the summer of 1984. We dropped a lot of LSD that summer, in our mid-twenties by then. Old enough to know better, of course, or maybe just go further, higher, deeper through the absurdities of the ever corroding western world whose edges and holes and voids we felt compelled to explore. This meant going public with acid in our veins, taking it to malls, video arcades, strip joints, crowded downtown streets, fair grounds, everywhere, every weird and ugly thing. Getting lost in the supermarket, we called it.” (Philip Random)

Clash-supermarket

429. the new world

“The band known as X were definitely onto something come 1983’s More Fun in the New World, moving beyond their punk origins into a richer, more widescreen sort of rock and roll that was definitely More Fun. Like that first line in The New World about the bars being closed, they must be voting for the President or something. Way the f*** better and smarter than anything the Springsteens or Mellencamps or Huey Lewises … were cranking out at the time. But did it get played on the radio? Hardly. This is why I generally have no problem saying that the 80s sucked musically speaking. Not that the music itself was bad – it was just so hard to find the really good stuff. ” (Philip Random)

X-newWorld

447. false leader

Gary Clail gets the credit here but there are all kinds of folks involved in this coolly groovy yet grimly apocalyptic few minutes from 1991, with On-U Sound at the heart of it all. I’d say the 1980s were more their time, when their fusion of dub, punk, politics, NOISE mattered most. It manifested in various bands, singers, poets, players, but it was pretty much always Adrian Sherwood working the final mix. With a track like False Leader pulling it all together, throwing down a gauntlet that the future’s still trying to figure out. And yes, they are still at it.” (Philip Random)

GaryClail-1991-videoEYE

486. technology works [dub]

In which Keith Leblanc, straight outa Connecticut, and by way of outfits like Sugarhill Records, Tackhead, Little Axe (and a bunch more) reminds us of exactly what 1986 felt like – the best part anyway. Big beats (bigger than man had ever heard before), cool noise, strange new technologies alchemizing, boiling over, eager to smash the planet, change everything forever. And they would. Planet smashing was definitely what it was all about in the 80s. The planet needed smashing, musically speaking, that is.

KeithLeblanc-promo

 

539. around the world in a day

Prince-1985-live

Prince (and his Revolution) go drug free psychedelic in the middle of the least psychedelic decade since at least the 1950s, with the title track of their first post Purple Rain album. And it works. The whole album works in its multi-coloured way, not bothering to try to measure up to what had come before, just being its own voluptuous thing. And, for the record, the 1980s were actually quite psychedelic … if you were going to the right parties, hanging around in the right rec-rooms, mountaintops, isolated beaches and islands. Psychedelia was definitely a more isolated thing that decade, and all the stronger for it, like being part of some great and mysterious undefined resistance. What were we resisting? Pretty much everything, it seems.” (Philip Random)

Prince-aroundTHEworld